Charging the burliest trail features and steepest lines with reckless abandon, the 2018 Pivot Switchblade Carbon 27.5+ Race XT/SLX 1x Complete Mountain Bike carves out its own category within the mid-travel plus-bike world, blurring the boundary between aggressive trail and enduro disciplines with 5.3in of DW-Link suspension. In 27.5+ form, the Switchblade floats you over chunky and loose terrain, with maximum control and traction, gripping into loose berms and soaking up every rock and root in its path. 27.5+ wheels skew the Switchblade toward the backcountry craving rider, with tractor-wheels that plow ahead through winding deer trails into the wild beyond, and can hold their own through rocky enduro trails for riders seeking a trail bike that can conquer it all.
The DW-Link suspension is a tried-and-true platform employed on all of Pivot's full-suspension machines. This comes as no surprise, seeing DW-Link's ability to claw up the steepest, chunkiest climbs and smooth square-edge hits on the descent. The Switchblade's 5.3in of DW-Link travel remains quick to surge forward with every pedal stroke, yet it's surprisingly confident on the descent, mainly due to the DW-Link's unflappable composure on successive hits and burly rock sections. Another thing to note, the Switchblade's DW-Link suspension uses a Phoenix-inspired, double-wishbone rear triangle that stiffens both the pedaling interface and linkage design.
Pivot takes Boost axle standards to entirely new realms with the advent of their Super Boost Plus rear axle spacing. Poking fun at the upward escalation of hub spacing, "Super Boost Plus" refers to Pivot's choice to employ a 157-millimeter rear axle, which in turn allows for increased tire clearance and incredibly short chainstays. Super Boost Plus adds an additional 9 millimeters of room to the rear axle, which results in 12mm of additional tire clearance. Essentially, it combines a DH chainline with a typical 5-inch bike's Q-factor and heel clearance.
One of the main benefits of Super Boost Plus lies in Pivot's ability to chop down the chainstays to a mere 16.85-inches, which is a ridiculously short dimension that embarrasses bikes with standard BOOST rear axles. These trimmed-down chainstays equate to incredibly nimble handling through switchbacks and tight sections of trail. Another benefit to Super Boost Plus is the ability to swap between the voluminous 27.5+ wheels provided for quick-rolling 29er wagon wheels; In fact, this wider axle standard readily accepts up to 27.5 x 3.25 inch tires, meaning you can drastically improve traction and bump compliance, especially across loose, drifty corners and jarring rock gardens.
Delving into the geometry figures, the Switchblade is relatively slack in 27.5+ form with its 66.8-degree head tube angle (with a 17mm cup) providing just the right balance of steering precision and downhill composure at higher speeds. The snappy-short rear end makes for quick turning when you're slaloming around tight corners and negotiating sketchy sections of trail where instantaneous response is necessary. It's both long and low-slung for descending confidence, with a generous reach keeping things comfortable, so you're not crammed in the cockpit.
To ensure consistent geometry if you chose to swap between wheel sizes, Pivot supplies a 17mm headset cup on the 27.5+ model that keeps the bottom bracket height and head tube angle consistent between 27.5+ and 29er configurations. It adds additional height to the bike's front end in 27.5+ form, slacking it out and raising the bottom bracket to keep it consistent with the 29er's geometry. Should you decide to switch wheelset to 29er, Pivot recommends ditching the cup, though you can ride with this 17-millimeter cup in 29er form, you'll just notice the bike sits a bit higher and gets extra slack.
- Aggro 27.5+ ride blurs the line between trail and enduro
- 5.3in of DW-Link travel for efficiency and bump compliance
- High-modulus carbon frame is responsively stiff and strong
- Long, relatively slack geometry for descending composure
- Super Boost rear spacing accommodates larger 27.5+ tires
- Snappy-short 16.85-inch chainstays for nimble handling
- Elements of the DH Phoenix reinforce the rear linkage